and recreation clubs are important to local communities and can be the
best place to encourage positive contact and cooperation between people
from a range of different backgrounds and abilities.
There is great potential for sporting clubs and community groups to
expand their memberships and reduce social isolation, by encouraging
people of diverse backgrounds, abilities and age to join and
The department has a position statement with regard to inclusive participation, this being:
“Sport and Recreation expects all Western Australians to have the
opportunity to participate in sport and recreation activities regardless
of their age, gender, religion, cultural background, sexual
orientation, disability, income or geographical location”.
A copy of the full position statement can be accessed from the website.
Australia is a diverse nation, with Western Australia one of the most
diverse of all the states and territories. In 2011, Western Australia’s
population was 2.2 million people, an increase of 14% from 2006, and
expected to increase further from the 2016 statistics. WA had the
highest proportion of its population (31%) born overseas of all
Australian states and territories, with Perth the highest proportion of
overseas-born (35%) of all Australian capital cities.
WA is home to people from more than 190 countries, speaking
approximately 270 languages and dialects (including around 50 Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander languages). Western Australians follow more
than 130 religious faiths. People from the United Kingdom, Europe,
South-East Asia and the Middle East, and more recently from South Asia
and Africa, have made Western Australia their home, creating a
harmonious environment that respects diversity.
According to the 2011 Census, there were 69,664 Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people living in WA. Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people represent 3.1% of the WA population.
Many culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) groups and
individuals participate in sport, mainly at a social level at schools,
in local parks, with youth groups, after school and with family and
friends from their communities. When comparing structured sports to
social physical activity, participation rates by CaLD people are lower
than people born in Australia.
There is great potential for sporting associations and clubs to
expand their membership by encouraging people of diverse backgrounds to
join and participate. This booklet outlines the benefits of becoming an
inclusive club as well as practical strategies to assist you.
Before we begin to look at strategies, it is important to look at some
definitions. These can also be viewed on the Sport and Recreation
- A migrant is someone who chooses to leave their country of origin for a range of personal or economic reasons.
- CaLD is a term used to describe people from culturally and
linguistically diverse backgrounds. The term is used to describe people
who were born overseas or who are Australian born with one or both
parents (or grandparents) born overseas.
- A refugee is a person who: “Owing to a well-founded fear of
being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership
of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the
country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear,
is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country”.
Refugees do not choose to leave their home countries but are forced out,
owing to a range of political factors that threaten their lives.
A significant proportion of people who can be classified under the
CaLD umbrella are in fact neither refugees nor migrants, but are second
and even third-generation Australians whose parents or grandparents were
born in non-English-speaking countries. These people face different and
often less challenging barriers to those faced by new migrants and
When considering how your club can be diverse and inclusive,
particular attention should be paid to ensuring that all people are
What are the benefits of being inclusive?
- Increased membership of your club
- Increase in the number of players, volunteers and administrators, who can help contribute to the success and running of the club
- Increase in the skills and abilities within the club
- Increased understanding and experience of diversity
- A richer club environment in which members appreciate and learn
from each other’s backgrounds and experiences, which will particularly
benefit junior teams
- Increased chance of sponsorship from companies with diverse management or consumer base
- Strengthening of the community as a whole by encouraging everyone to contribute to building a stronger society.
Common barriers faced by Aboriginal people
Aboriginal people can face a number of challenges to participating in
sport and recreation, particularly within a club environment. These
often relate to a lack of understanding of Aboriginal culture, society
and history and can result in a lack of participation.
Some further barriers include:
- Being a minority and feeling different to the rest
- Not feeling welcome
- Not feeling comfortable to ask questions
- Difficulties with committing to ongoing structured sporting activities, due to family and community commitments
- Negative experiences during life that affects their ability to trust, engage and participate fully in society
- English as a second language
- Difficulties with the payment of fees, purchase of uniforms and access to transport.
Common barriers faced by new migrants and refugees
New migrants and refugees face a range of challenges when attempting
to establish new lives in Australia. These include learning a new
language; adapting to a new education system; lifestyle change; and loss
of family support. Importantly, refugees, may have witnessed or
experienced torture, trauma and extreme violence before being resettled
Some other barriers to participation in sport experienced by refugees include the following:
- Difficulties understanding the concept of structured sporting
activities after a lifetime of living in countries without structured,
community-based sporting opportunities.
- Memories of torture, trauma and extreme violence that affects the ability to trust, engage and participate fully in society.
- Difficulties engaging with mainstream Australians, some of whom react negatively to perceived cultural differences.
- Lack of family or parental support due to ongoing challenges and pressures of resettlement.
- Cost of activities. Many refugees face extreme financial
hardship and families often do not perceive sporting activities as a
Common barriers faced by people with disability
Everyone has the right to be a part of an inclusive and welcoming
community where their contribution is recognised and valued. People with
disability should have equal opportunity to participate in a mainstream
Participation in community sport or recreation provides an
opportunity to develop physical skills and social connectedness. This
can be a life-changing experience especially for those with limited
Some other barriers to participation in sport experienced by people with disability include the following:
- Assumptions about a person’s abilities, with people afraid to ask if help required
- Unsafe, and inaccessible environments (steps, space, etc.)
- Too many physical activities, that don’t allow open participation
- Limited supporting facilities (such as toilets or changing rooms)
- Limited signage or inclusive publication material
- Lack of interpreter services.
How accessible is your club?
Complete this simple checklist to see how welcoming your club is to
someone who is unfamiliar with the sports structure in Australia.
- Is it easy to join your club?
- Is it easy to find out about your club?
- Is your signage easy to read?
- Are staff available and willing to help people fill out the membership forms if they have difficulties reading English?
- Are existing members and staff friendly and open to new members?
- Do existing members and staff offer advice and support?
- Do you have an induction for new members?
- Does your club have a buddy system for new members?
- Do training session times correspond with public transport?
- Does your organisation advertise via local ethnic and Aboriginal community centres or in ethnic community newsletters?
Is your club inclusive for all members of the community?
Complete this simple checklist to see how inclusive your club presently is.
- Is the club open to everyone?
- Are participation opportunities provided for females where appropriate?
- Are there appropriate facilities available, such as private change rooms for women, and women’s only activities?
- How flexible is your uniform policy? Does it allow for those who
may have financial difficulties? Does it allow for a degree of modesty
(e.g. for people who wish to keep their bodies covered)?
- Are you aware of the timing of religious celebrations that may
impact on the ability of some members to attend training sessions and
matches? Is everyone treated fairly and equally, regardless of age,
gender, religion or ethnic background?
- Does the club have an anti-discrimination policy so that any forms of discrimination and/or racism can be addressed quickly?
- Are programs within your club flexible enough to cater for people’s varying needs?
- Further information is available from the Sport and Recreation website, with supporting download documents and an Inclusive Club Checklist.
How can your club increase participation from diverse communities?
Training and support
- Provide cross-cultural awareness training to committee members
and to its members. Details regarding suitable providers of this
training can be sourced from the Inclusive organisations directory or
the Sport and Recreation Inclusion Officers.
- You may wish to consider holding sessions, classes, activities
and competitions on the premises of ethnic and Aboriginal community
organisations to encourage those too shy to approach recreation centres
and sporting clubs.
- Often there may be strong pressure on potential participants to devote their time to family priorities.
- A strategy for overcoming this barrier is to encourage the whole
family to participate, e.g. cutting oranges, umpiring, equipment
maintenance and most importantly, attending games as spectators.
- The timing of sessions, training, etc. could be worth a review.
- Utilise families – membership can increase when families feel welcome.
- Try to form partnerships with existing women’s organisations and
groups within Aboriginal and CaLD communities to ensure appropriate
cultural and gender issues are addressed when developing programs and
- Consider women-only environments. As a result, simple program
modifications may need to be implemented such as using female coaches;
expanding the club to include female teams and competition; and
providing women-only spaces.
- Consider flexible uniform. Some women prefer to continue wearing
traditional clothing, including headscarves and clothing that covers
the knees and shoulders, when playing sport. Allowing for and
encouraging uniform alteration for these women will increase the
likelihood that they will feel comfortable enough to participate.
- Speak with service providers who work with new migrants and
refugees such as migrant resource centres and also with local Aboriginal
- Talk to ethnic and Aboriginal community groups and community
leaders. Provide them with information about your club and form links
- Contact your local government and find out which ethnic
community, Aboriginal, CaLD or disability service providers operate in
- Contact the Office of Multicultural Interests and Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (formerly Department for Aboriginal Affairs)
for information on the specific needs of different CaLD and Aboriginal
groups and for guidance on how to establish contact with groups in your
- Be open to new ideas for getting new people to join your club.
Often individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds wish to participate
in structured sporting opportunities but are unsure how to participate
in a way that does not compromise their needs. Speaking to community
leaders and service providers is one way to discover how your club might
do something new or different to meet these needs.
- Be familiar with and have information on hand regarding the KidSport program.
KidSport provides the opportunity for eligible Western Australian
children aged 5-18 years to participate in community sport and
recreation by offering them financial assistance towards club fees.
- Look at your facilities and ensure they are accessible for all.
- Regular open days and coaching sessions at schools may encourage
local people to visit the club and become familiar with the facilities
Policies and procedures
- Think about putting in place an anti-discrimination policy so
that any forms of inequity and/or racism can be addressed quickly.
Experiences of racism and discrimination can be a massive deterrent to
- Review the clubs position on social media, particularly images
and communication that portrays the club (Facebook, website, pictures of
Aboriginal people/artwork etc.).
How can club members make a difference?
- Provide a welcoming environment
- Befriend new members
- Offer support and advice
- Be sensitive to diversity
- Make a stand against discrimination or racial harassment
- Offer help with transport
- Share sports equipment
- Help new members learn the rules
- Be aware that people who speak English as their first language
tend to speak quickly, which may be difficult for a person learning
English to comprehend. Try to speak clearly and avoid slang, but don’t
speak with a false accent, shout, or talk slowly.
- Take time to develop relationships
- Be open and honest. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is okay
to ask a person questions about where they have come from; what
Aboriginal group they belong to; what sports they like playing etc.
Catering for diversity
Some clubs may feel that developing new networks, programs and
procedures may be too difficult, too expensive or too time consuming for
already over-stretched volunteers/staff. The skills you would use to
include people from Aboriginal, CaLD or with disability backgrounds are
no different from the program planning you would do for other people. An
inclusive club adapts to the needs of all individuals.
For further information please view each of the low-participation groups individual sections on the website.